• Jefferson Pooley deposited The Trials of Media Research in the group Group logo of Cultural StudiesCultural Studies on Humanities Commons 1 year, 9 months ago

    Media research is a vexing enterprise. Trapped in the borderlands between social science and the humanities, the study of media and communication bears the liabilities of both. We have to contend with all the challenges that sociologists and literary scholars face: the subjective baggage of the analyst, her struggle to interpret unstable meanings, the strange fact that her descriptions double back on the reality she purports to merely describe. Those are our challenges too, but we face them with special ferocity. The stuff that we study—internet memes, for example, or self-learning algorithms—are characterized by ceaseless churn. Even the categories we use, like “audience” or “content” or “producer,” get washed away by the pace of change. There is nothing fixed or frozen to linger on; everything we study is on the move, looping, dynamic, and messy. The word itself, “media,” gets at this fundamental instability: a medium is something in between, the airy space in the interstices of solider things.